Policies Electronic Journals

I. Purpose

The University of Oregon Libraries supports the instructional and research programs of the University. Toward this aim, the Library collects or provides access to materials in multiple formats, including electronic formats. The challenges to providing access to electronic journals warrant a separate collection development policy focusing on these materials. This policy will provide guidelines for the selection and acquisition of electronic journals as well as the provision of access. Related collection development documents will address procedural concerns in detail.

II. Scope

This policy seeks to address the selection and acquisition of electronic journals accessible via the Internet. This policy covers electronic journals for which the Library gains free access, access at a reduced rate because the Library subscribes to the print, or purchased access to an electronic-only version.

The Library will pursue the purchase of other types of resources as these develop in the future and meet the guidelines outlined herein. This policy also does not address the following electronic resources, which may fall into more than one of the following categories:

  • online bibliographic or full-text databases
  • offline electronic resources
  • Internet resources (monographic in nature)

Collection development policies for online resources and offline electronic resources address the selection, acquisition, and provision of access for these materials.

III. Principal Access Point and Provision of Access

The Library will provide access to electronic journals which it acquires and/or licenses via the central Library Web page. The Library will maximize access to the Library's electronic journals through several means: cataloging of each e-journal, necessary archiving and/or storage, provision, maintenance, preparation, and loading of necessary software and hardware, and appropriate staff and user support and training for optimal use. Because the Library will catalog e-journals, there will be links to these resources via the Janus Webpac. Additionally, subject specialists or departmental libraries and collections may wish to provide links to these journals via appropriate Webpages.

IV. General Selection Principles

Selection Responsibility:

Responsibility for selecting these materials falls to individual subject specialists and the head of collection development as these materials fall into their regular selecting responsibility. Other librarians and library users will offer suggestions to appropriate subject specialists or the head of collection development.


Ordinarily, the subject content will determine the individual fund. Subject specialists and the head of collection development will determine the appropriate individual funds to use for purchasing electronic journals. As with all other formats, the Library will consider other allocations for those titles deemed major purchases.

Adherence to Other Collection Development Guidelines:

The purchase of electronic journals should follow present collecting policies whether general or subject specific policies. Specifically their purchase should adhere to the chronological, geographical, language, and date of publication guidelines set forth in general or subject specific policies. As with other materials subject specialists should also 1) consider present curriculum and research needs, 2) select materials which meet the standards the Library expects of all materials in regard to excellence, comprehensiveness, and authoritativeness, and 3) weigh the purchase of a particular title against other possible acquisitions from material budgets.

Specific Format Criteria:

In addition to content, subject specialists should closely consider the criteria listed below when considering the purchase of electronic journals:

  • if free, the improvement or enhancement that the resource will give to existing print materials
  • the technical requirements necessary to provide access
  • the broad accessibility of the resource under present copyright laws and licensing agreements
  • the user-friendliness of the resource
  • the necessity of archiving and/or availability of archives

It is particularly important to consult available published reviews of electronic journals before their acquisition. Reviews can outline how well a resource meets specific criteria and can provide further insight regarding the resource's overall quality. If reviews are not available, then subject specialists should make an effort to locate other pertinent information about the resource, possibly through listserves, and provide the names of contacts at comparable institutions who are using the resource so that Collection Development may explore possible issues and concerns about a resource.

Subject specialists should not necessarily exclude a title because it does not meet every individual criterion or because it automatically duplicates a print subscription. However, subject specialists should attempt to select resources that adequately meet as many of the selection criteria as is possible. Because this format increases the complexity of acquisition and access, subject specialists should include the detailed list of pre-order guidelines when ordering electronic journals. A sample of this detailed list is appended to this policy.

V. Licensing

The Library will negotiate and comply with vendor licensing agreements. An appended list of pre-order guidelines outline the necessary details for this negotiation and compliance. The Library will also promote compliance with licensing agreements among its users and among its staff. Because this format increases the complexity of licensing agreements, subject specialists should include the detailed list of pre-order guidelines and the necessary licensing agreement, when available, with any order for electronic journals prior to ordering the title.

VII. Duplicates

The Library will purchase electronic journals which duplicate print subscriptions when:

  • one format is unstable
  • a cost benefit for purchasing multiple formats exists
  • multiple formats meet the different needs of user groups
  • the archived format of a resource will not operate with current technology.

VIII. Policy Review

Because of the complex and dynamic nature of providing access to electronic journals, the head of Collection Development, the subject specialists, and other librarians will need to review this policy at least every two years.

For information, contact:
Dave Fowler
Head of Acquisitions
Knight Library
University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403